- by Carol Lynn Pearson
There's something strangely false in our
Assured, complete goodbye,
For love's the blood in the flesh of the soul
And the soul will never die.
So--friendly, fondly, as I may
In God's approving view,
I'll call across eternity
For messages of you.
Before the Mike I love and married in 1995, there was another Michael I loved and lived with for two years in the early 1980s.
Michael and I met one night in a yuppie-type restaurant/bar. It was my only case of love at first sight, and he said his also. I was having drinks with friends after work, he was celebrating the end of his first year law school exams. The intoxicating stranger gave me a ride back to my place on his motorcycle. Two weeks later, he returned to the house he shared with roommates to collect his big dog and his belongings and he moved in with me.
After our relationship fell apart -- my fault mainly -- we had a few magnetic, mercurial meetings for a year following, even after he formed a new but short-lived relationship with another woman. His dog even returned to the porch of the house we shared and that I kept when the two of them moved ten blocks away. Our friends and family were caught in the whir, with his younger brother becoming my close confidant and kindred. It was complicated.
One night in 1982 I wrote in a book given to me by a friend, a book of really rather mediocre poetry as poetry goes but that contains this one pearl that shone through the confusion of lost love and the accompanying heartbreak. I can tell by my writing that I was drunk when I made the notation: For Michael 8-17-82, being an additional indicator of that time in my life. Three years later I was to enter treatment for alcoholism and I see now that the way the relationship ended was the beginning of my descent into what is called "hitting bottom" prior to recovery.
Michael married in 1990 and had a son. I lost contact with his brother after my marriage in 1995, but I was aware that Michael lived in this area and, although we were long over, every once in awhile I was drawn back to this poem. The power of the poem held an importance that I never questioned.....
In the last few months through the modern miracle that is Facebook I've reignited some old friendships that bring me much happiness. One is with Michael's younger brother, who left a message a month ago saying that he'd be visiting Oregon in June. This news did indeed propel me to once again pull the little book containing this poem from my shelves. I find it truly astonishing that, for the first in all the times I'd read it, I thought that it sounded as if the poem were describing a separation caused by death and not just the cessation of a relationship, which was the context in which I'd always read it.
Following that, I dreamed of Michael. It was, I am sure, the only dream I've ever had of him. It was a dynamic dream with earthy symbolism that the next morning seemed quirky, but that I now understand.
Two days after my dream I heard from his brother again, this time a long email written via my blog profile........ And so it was that, on June 6, 2009, I learned of Michael's death in 2002 at age 54 after a brief struggle with lymphoma.
I've been processing the shock for a week now at the same time that plans are being made to have lunch with the brother when he visits Michael's son and widow next week here in Oregon. My husband has been so understanding of my spaciness and my silence, and has offered some keen observations that helped me greatly.
It seems too surreal for me to mourn one I loved long ago who has been dead now for over seven years. Yet I have grieved. It seems not my place to feel a loss, for there was a wife who knew him as no one else could. Still, I've felt the loss of a strong link in the chain of my past, thereby lightening the anchor to my life that was ..... lightening the anchor to life itself in a sense ..... and thereby casting a thin line with a tiny golden hook into that eternity of the poem.